Booking a cruise for the first time can be a bit daunting with the many details and choices to consider. And finding an affordable option takes some savvy and research, but with these tips you will be on your way to a memorable cruise vacation, and still have some green in your wallet!
1. Book at the Last Minute
If your schedule is flexible, you can score amazing deals on last-minute cruises. Tip: for the cruise you’re interested in, find out how close to the departure date a traveler can cancel their reservation without a penalty, usually two to three months before departure. This the perfect time to call and check for deals, or cabin upgrades if you’ve already booked.
2. Pick the Right Time to Go
Finding a plum deal on a cruise may be easier during certain times of the year. Mid-September offers some of the very best rates since the summer has wound down and the kids are back in school. The period between Thanksgiving and Christmas is another time to save some money, when most people are preparing for and celebrating the holidays at home.
3. Pay the Extra for a Balcony
When choosing your room, spring for the most your budget can handle. Your options are usually:
- Inside, with no windows
- Outside, with window/porthole view
- Balcony, which is a room with a balcony on the outside of the ship
- Suite, which is a larger cabin often with separate living and sleeping areas
You will appreciate the extra space and awesome view you get from a balcony room or suite, especially if you have kids, want to dine in, or just want to enjoy fresh air and some extra space.
4. Pack Light
Make sure to pack smart—which means light! Ships usually don’t offer much space for extra stuff, so make the most of a few key outfits that do triple duty. All ships offer laundry service, too, so you can launder outfits as needed. Ask about the “formal” evenings and how strict the dress code is so you can plan accordingly. If you prefer not to attend the formal events, you can get room service or Lido dining those evenings and skip packing the tux and gown.
5. Get There the Night Before
Arrive the night before your cruise and enjoy an extra evening on vacation. You’ll skip the stress of trying to get to your port city the day of sailing―we’re talking about delayed flights, unforeseen traffic, and weather delays that have caused many cruisers to miss the boat! So, plan to arrive at your port city early and check out the town, enjoy dinner, sightseeing, and prepare for your cruise without worry.
6. Check in After 2 p.m.
Cruisers are often anxious to get on board as early as possible, which means the cruise terminal can be hectic and stressful during the first few hours of boarding, usually from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. if your ship sets sail at 4 p.m. or later. If you board early, you may not even be allowed into your cabin until later in the afternoon, which means you’ll be waiting around with all your stuff. Instead, avoid the hassle and check in after 2 p.m. You’ll walk on stress-free, and head straight to your cabin.
7. Skip Port Calls?
Port calls sound inviting, exciting, can’t-miss, right? But when you ask those who have done port calls before you, they tell a different tale. Often times, you hardly see or enjoy the place you’re visiting, despite paying a high price for the excursion. Many cruisers suggest staying onboard your ship since most facilities are still open, and you’ll have them to yourself―it’s your ship for the day!
Check out these resources to make your cruise experience stress-free and enjoyable:
Prom night memories last a lifetime, so take some extra time to choose a safe, reputable transportation provider like Shuttle Express. Parents, we make safety number one so you can rest assured your kids are in a professional, safe, insured vehicle when they leave your sight!
Here are 10 tips to keep in mind when you and your teen are shopping for prom transportation, some from the National Limo Association, with a few more from the experienced event sales team here at Shuttle Express.
- Be safe.
Make sure the company is registered, licensed with the state, and has the proper insurance. Shuttle Express is fully registered and licensed, insured with five times the amount required by law, and compliant in all areas of safety. We also have Drive-Cam units in every vehicle that ensure the safety of the guests and driver. Our efforts are worth it–our guests enjoy safe rides, and we have earned the top safety award in our national insurance group for six years running!
- Get the vehicle you want!
Ensure the vehicle you choose has the space and features you want, preferably with one or two extra seats. Do not exceed the max capacity, because that will mean an uncomfortable night. If you have a large group, check out our larger “party” coach that seats 12-15 friends! Economical, comfortable, and fun.
- Get the total price.
Compare apples to apples so you aren’t surprised when you get the final bill. Ask if a fuel surcharge, service fees, and gratuity are included, or are they telling you just the base price. Our Shuttle Express sales team will make sure you have all the facts.
- Ask about extras.
Do you want ice and soft drinks, a preferred route, or additional stops? We’ll give you all the options, then we will help you decide on the details.
- Set some ground rules.
Parents, you have the right to tell the chauffeured transportation company what will and will not be tolerated in the vehicle. For example, you can ask that the chauffeur keep the privacy screen down for the entire ride. If any of your rules are broken, the chauffeur can turn the car around and bring your kids home.
- Give the transportation company a curfew.
That’s right, the chauffeur will abide by any rules you set, and will make sure to pick up and drop off your kids at a designated hour. This is a great way to ensure your kids make it home on time–no excuses.
- Tell your kids to forget about bringing alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs on board the vehicle.
They will end up missing their own prom! Shuttle Express does not allow any alcohol in vehicles with minor guests who are not accompanied by adults.
- Allow time to take lots of photographs.
You’re definitely going want some photos, so plan for everyone to meet at one location. Make sure the transportation company and the chauffeur have the address and directions. This will eliminate wasting time that can be used for taking pictures and having fun. Ask the chauffeur to position the vehicle to be a part of your teen’s pictures.
- Extend the night.
Don’t forget that there almost always is a post-prom party. Remember to book the transportation for a few extra hours to ensure your teen has time to enjoy all the events.
- Remember to sit back and relax.
A reputable company like Shuttle Express hires chauffeurs with proper training and licensing. These chauffeurs are used to transporting excited passengers all day long, so they know how to keep things under control. So, relax!
Most of us have experienced those long flights across the country and beyond–cramped and uncomfortable in an airplane seat for hours on end. But, if you know some of the tips and tricks, your endless flight could be stress-free and painless. Check out these suggestions from experienced travelers:
Bring “Go-To” Gear
Your carry-on bag should be packed with comfort items and things to keep you occupied, such as a travel pillow, eye mask, headphones/earplugs, tablet, blanket, and snacks. And always prepare for lost luggage–pack your carry-on bag with small toiletries, medications, and an extra set of clothes!
Choose Your Seat Carefully
Try to get an aisle seat when booking your flight. With an aisle seat, you can more easily hop up and use the restroom without climbing over someone else, and it also allows you easy access to your gear in your carry-on bag.
It is important to stay hydrated on a lengthy flight, so drink plenty of water! Limit alcohol, though, because that will have the opposite effect.
Make sure to get up from your seat occasionally to stretch and move around. Move as often as possible to avoid getting muscle cramps and knots in your neck and back. It’s also important to stand up and move on extended flights to help prevent blood clots in your legs, which is a dangerous condition called deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
Try to get some rest during the flight. Napping helps offset jetlag upon arrival, and refreshes you so you’re ready to enjoy your destination.
Plan Ahead for Airport Transportation Service
If you’re starting or ending your trip at SeaTac Airport, try Shuttle Express’s private car service, the quickest way to your home or hotel! Your chauffeur tracks your flight, meets you at baggage claim holding your name sign, and escorts you to your waiting town car. No sharing. Before you know it, you are at your destination!
-Allyson Eli, Sales and Marketing
If you’re in the mood for some scary fun this week, we’ve listed just a few of the frightful happenings around the Sound! For more events, visit Best Events for 12 Months, a great resource all year long when you’re looking for something to do.
Don’t forget, Shuttle Express is standing by as your designated driver, whether you have a bus load of trick-or-treaters to drive around, or you and your friends want to crawl the pubs! We’ve got vans, cars, and coaches of different sizes. Call us at 425-981-7000, option 5, for hourly rates.
- Tacoma Haunted House – October 3 – 30, 2014 – Hell’s Gateway is a high-tech haunted house with three attractions at 2302 Fawcett Ave.
- Tukwila Haunted House – October 3 – Nov. 1, 2014 – Shadows Haunted Attraction has both a traditional dark maze and a group theatrical experience in Tukwila.
- Halloween at Wild Waves – October 3 – Nov. 1, 2014 (schedule) – Fright Fest offers entertainment, rides in the dark, a haunted house, and Booville for kids at Wild Waves.
- Kids’ Costume Party – October 31, 2014 (4 to 8 p.m.) – Kids 10 and younger will enjoy a haunted mountain, scavenger hunt, games, and trick or treat at the free Costume Carnival at Seattle Children’s Museum.
- Freaky Halloween Concert – October 31 – Nov. 1, 2014 – FreakNight is a high-energy music and dance concert with freaky entertainment in WaMu Theater at CenturyLink Field for party-goers ages 18 and up.
Enjoy the fun, and stay safe!
Seattle is just days away from the Seahawks’ first regular season game! If you’re looking for convenient, hassle-free game day transportation for a large or small group, we’ve got a great solution. Our private service options include 55-passenger motor coaches, 14-28 passenger mini coaches, passenger vans, and town car/SUV/limo service. We’ll pick up you and your group at your chosen location, take you to the game, and be waiting for you when the game is over. So, skip the parking mess and try our private group transportation service.
It’s easy to book, just call us at (425) 981-7000, extension #5, or email us at email@example.com. We’ll take care of the details and the driving so you can cheer on our favorite team!
We asked our friend Ann Peavey at the Seattle Visitor Center what visitors most want to know – here are the top questions (with answers!) visitors ask this city expert:
1. Where’s the best a view in Seattle?
- The most iconic viewpoint in Seattle is the Space Needle’s observation deck at the 520 foot level. Along with fabulous views of the city, the Needle is also a top dining destination in the area.
- The Columbia Skyview Observatory at the Columbia Tower sits on the 73rd floor of the tower’s 76 floors. At nearly 1,000 feet high, the observation floor is the highest on the west coast.
- The Smith Tower offers views, as well as a dose of history! Built in 1914, the tower was the tallest building in the world outside of New York City in its day, and now operates as an office tower. The observation deck is on the 35th of 42 floors and boasts being one of only two buildings (the other being the Space Needle) with elevator operators.
- Kerry Park on Queen Anne Hill’s West Highlight Drive is one of the top destinations for views without a price tag!
What’s a good getaway outside of Seattle?
Bainbridge Island (and the community of Winslow) is an easy half-day trip from downtown–Winslow gives guests a feeling of Northwest island life without the time commitment necessary to travel to the San Juan Islands. The Washington State Ferry departs Colman Dock at Pier 52 for the 35-minute trip nearly every hour throughout the day. With just a $8 price tag for round trip foot passengers, it’s a bargain! Need to get to Colman Dock? Shuttle Express offers convenient private service.
What’s the Underground City?
There isn’t actually a city under Seattle, but there are relics from what were once operating storefronts beneath the city’s streets (a feature created when landfill covered the first and second stories of a few businesses built on Pioneer Square’s soggy streets in the late 1800s). Guests can view these remnants of the past through two walking tours:
- Bill Speidel’s 90-minute Underground Tour operates daily with animated tour guides who bring the city’s history to life.
- A new tour – Beneath the Streets – now offers similar scenes and stories in a 60-minute exploration of underground passageways.
Visitors can learn about these and other sightseeing opportunities at either of Visit Seattle’s two downtown visitor centers:
Seattle Visitor Center and Concierge Services, 7th Ave. & & Pike St.
Market Information Center, 1st Ave. & Pike St.
You’ve just been delegated the task of finding transportation for 50 co-workers from your office to a downtown restaurant, all at the same time. Need some help? As Seattle’s large group transportation experts, the Shuttle Express team coordinates large and small group travel every day! Here is advice from our seasoned sales coordinators to help make any large group transportation successful from the start.
- Plan ahead. Start looking for your transportation as soon as you have the details. Our fleet of 14-28-passenger mini-coaches and 55-passenger motor coaches gets snapped up quickly, especially during the busy summer season when tourists and cruise ship passengers hit Seattle. The earlier you get pricing and availability, the better.
- Provide details. Have as much information as you can when calling for quotes, including a basic itinerary and a general idea of budget. When our sales team has all the information, we are better able offer transportation options that work.
- Compare “apples to apples.” When considering quotes, make sure you look at all charges, including gratuity, fuel surcharge, and any additional fees so you aren’t surprised when the bill comes. And always ask about minimum booking requirements. Some companies require you to book three or four hours, even if all you need is a one or two hour transfer. The minimum booking time for our 14-55 passenger coaches is two hours, including travel time, so you don’t pay for time you don’t need.
- Check safety ratings. Safety is a critical when it comes to transportation. Check on the safety rating of any company you’re considering. We’re proud of our safety and driver training programs; we work hard at earning and maintaining the government’s highest safety rating.
- Be open to suggestions. Sometimes, two mini-coaches make more sense than one larger coach when transporting a large group, it just depends on your needs. For example, it may be more convenient for your group if departure times are staggered.
Need a ride? As Seattle’s local transportation experts, our professional, friendly drivers have been getting people to where they need to go for nearly 30 years, safely and on time. We’re best known for our iconic Sea-Tac Airport van service, but we do so much more—luxury cars, large and small coaches, private vans. We partner with corporations, hotels, meeting planners, or anyone who needs reliable, comfortable transportation with a friendly attitude.
So whether your company needs VIP black car service or group transportation for 50 of your favorite colleagues, our experienced, caring team will make it happen. Reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re here to help!